Stuart Turner and The Flat Earth Society
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Stuart Turner and The Flat Earth Society

Rochester, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE

Rochester, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Alternative Blues Rock

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"Review of the bands second album 'On The Brink Of Misadventure' in Artrocker Magazine"

After a turbulent year in the studio, which saw the band go through personnel changes and, on more than occasion, on the brink of completely falling apart, Stuart Turner & The Flat Earth Society are back with their trademark blend of whiskey soaked blues, indie, pop and rockabilly, in the form of their second album, the aptly titled 'On The Brink of Misadventure'. Thankfully the band's troubles aren't reflected in the album, a lively, balls out, foot stomping romp through the blues with Stuart Turner's unique voice in fine form. Magnificently capturing the energy of their live shows, 'On The Brink of Misadventure' is literally brimming with enough exhilarating riffs to cause a coronary. From the moment album opener 'Decimation' kicks in, the album grabs you by the balls and refuses to let go until the dying moments, and trust me when I tell you it's a more than satisfying experience! With so many great foot-tappers, picking a favourite is as difficult as picking a favourite child, but I'll stick my neck out and say 'About Last Night'. Featuring the coolest riff this side of 'Green Onions' as well as some great lyrical couplets; 'after last night never drinking again/except by myself or maybe with friends', it's the perfect antidote to a night on the tiles. Elsewhere the laid the back 'Unwanted' slows things down nicely, while the infectious 'Nanny and the Fireship' is guaranteed to get your head nodding along as Stuart's lyrics take a dark turn. 8/10 - Sonic New Media


"Album review in Penny Black Music Magazine"

The music created by Stuart Turner has, and hopefully will always be, a challenging experience. Turner is forever pushing boundaries but this album, his third backed by The Flat Earth Society, while still defying all known genres, is slightly more accessible than those that went before.

It’s still very much an acquired taste, not because Turner’s songs lack structure, although many of the songs featured on ‘The Art And Science of Phrenology’ are complex and demand the listener's total attention, but it’s still that voice that will turn as many people away as it attracts. Making Tom Waits sound like a choirboy is no mean feat and, while it’s understandable that many listeners will still find it hard to get past that gravelly gurgle that Turner uses to sing with, there’s so much more to the man’s music if he is only given the chance.

Those who were impressed by last year’s single ‘Call Me Dave’ (included on this album) will find plenty more of the same here; the jaunty banjo at odds with Turner’s growling vocals on a song that could almost be his calling-card, highlighting Turner’s intense vocal style perfectly. ‘Mindspikes’, which opens the album, is cut from the same cloth, banjo replaced by big guitar hooks and Turner almost mumbling the lyrics through the melee.

Like many others the first time I heard Turner it was something of a surprise and it did take a little time to adjust to his unique vocal style, but while it’s understandable why some will not grant Turner the time needed to get accustomed to his vocals it’s a shame if they give up on this music before it’s given a fair chance. There’s much to like here and even Turner’s singing voice, idiosyncratic as it is, has a certain charm and appeal given time.

Tracks like ‘Animalistic’ have so much going on musically and are really quite addictive so even if the listener can’t see beyond Turner’s growl initially there’s so much more to concentrate on. ‘Animalistic’ has Thomas Poston speaking the verses before Turner’s familiar roar comes in, and it’s touches like this that keep the album interesting.

‘The Gospel According to Us’ displays Turner’s blues leanings, the stripped-down backing of banjo and guitar creating a spooky atmosphere that is ideally suited to Turner’s heartfelt, intense vocals. While the fuller tracks certainly impress as Turner and the band don’t necessarily follow the expected path and are forever throwing in odd shapes and sounds, ‘The Gospel According to Us’ shows that Turner can still mesmerise with the minimum of backing and that unique voice on the more bluesy tracks like this.

‘Walking Through The Snow (To Get to You)’ is the one though; if Turner has a sensitive side then this is the closest we are likely to get to it, mumbling his way through what is a moving, pretty tune it throws up a side to Turner half-way through the album that he doesn’t show very often. Am I the first to use the word beautiful when describing one of Turner’s songs? Because if this touching, beautiful piece of music doesn’t move you then you’d better check for your pulse.

It’s not only Turner’s voice that grabs your attention though; ‘The Making of Landscape’ features vocals from Aimee Grinter and, while the song is another stomper like others on the album, Grinter’s haunting wordless background vocals add more than just texture to the song; when you hear Grinter singing in one ear and Turner in the other you’ll wish for more of the same.

‘The Mingulay Boat Song’ is the only song that Turner didn’t write, and really hammers home the Tom Waits influence. A traditional sea-shanty, it can’t fail to flash images of drunken fishermen through your mind, and starting slow before layers of sound are added it ends the album on a rousing high note.

‘The Art and Science of Phrenology’ is the most original album you’ve probably heard since…well, since the last Stuart Turner album. For all the attention that Turner’s voice is once again going to claim look beyond that and discover some really good tunes and brilliant playing from all concerned.

Just a closing note about the way the album is presented; a nice touch is the black vinyl-looking CD so respect to the Vacilando ’68 Recordings label for taking the time and trouble to do that little bit extra in making an exceptional and unique album even more attractive. -


"Album review of the bands third album, 'The Art and Science of Phrenology'"

Don’t waste your time trying to categorise it just enjoy it, every musical twist and turn in a wonderful, surreal journey into the dark and beautiful minds of Stuart Turner and The Flat Earth Society. Welcome to the mad hatter's tea party, my friends. The guests are quite eccentric but then some of the best music is a little mad.

THE ART AND SCIENCE OF PHRENOLOGY, A Presentation by Stuart Turner and The Flat Earth Society is the band's third album. A considered discourse in fifteen chapters according to the cover sleeve, this is indeed a project of magnificent proportions and pure imagination.

Stuart Turner (guitar and vocals) is joined by his Flat Earth Society members, Robbie Wilkinson – guitar, Bob Collins – guitar, Nick Rice – bass, Rob Shepherd – banjo and Steve Moore – drums and an ensemble of guest appearances from close musical friends. Together they have achieved something rare – a truly original sound and collection of alternative blues tales - thoughtful and varied, eccentric and dark.

I have never heard vocals like Stuart's before. They are angry, painful and uncompromising with intelligent lyrics and a thoughtful look at the world and its darker corners. It's not just about the vocals regardless of the warranted attention that you will pay them. These are individual chapters crafted by the changing nature of the band and the full range of style and skill brought by its members and required to complete such a wonderful and whimsical project.

As I have said, categorising this band and their latest album would be futile. You will hear several great songs deep rooted in the blues such as the muddy, rasps and mischievous banjo playing of Song For Long Term Relations and The Gospel According To Us. STFES also show much broader influences and an impressive ability to write undeniably catchy hooks and great indie pop and rock guitar which appear in Gunville Girl and The Get Out.

Mindspikes showcases roguish drums and electric guitar. This free, wayward attitude continues with Diminished Responsibility and Call Me Dave which conjures up images of a travelling showman and his honky-tonk piano.

The album ends with the bands spirit-rousing take on traditional The Mingulay Boat Song. Stuart's vocals provide a gorgeous contrast against the musical arrangement which begins sweet and subtle but sees each layer growing into something that is grand, uplifting and full of hope. The album's closer shows off the bands musical capability, thanks the listener for their company and leaves them inspired to start their own adventure. - Hand Media Ltd


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

The raw and unsettling art blues of Stuart Turner has violently hacked out a unique niche and sent befuzzled onlookers into varying states of disbelief.  The Guardian excellently described Stuart as a man scaring the ‘living daylights out of the assembled crowds with his spooky folk blues’ – watching Stuart live is like watching Tom Waits decapitating Howlin’ Wolf with a wry smile. Stuart put together his band The Flat Earth Society during 2009 to expand both the studio and live possibilities. 2010 brought the first band recordings with the album 'Gin and Bitters'. This was followed by the 'Weekend Hearts EP', then the second band album 'On The Brink Of Misadventure'. Line up change on line up change brought the hightly eclectic and critically lauded 'The Art of Science of Phrenology' in 2014 and with a stable live lineup at last there was the accompanying 'Gentleman's Club EP' in late 2014.

Band Members